Judith Wallerstein, Psychologist Who Studied Children of Divorce, Dies at 90
Posted on June 21, 2012
In the late seventies, as states around the country were passing no-fault divorce laws and divorce rates were skyrocketing, Judith Wallerstein published some unpopular news: children of divorcing families were suffering long-lasting consequences. Ten to fifteen years later, half of the children had become “worried, underachieving, self-deprecating and sometimes angry young men and women.” She found that only 40% of the children that she studied ended up getting married, and they were more likely to divorce. However, she did explain that open conflict could be far more destructive to children than divorce.
In that vein, Wallerstein was a strong advocate of adjusting custodial arrangements so that they served the needs of children first, not the convenience or comfort of the parents. She founded the Judith Wallerstein Center for the Family in Transition, in Marin County, California, a major center for research, education and counseling for families in separation, divorce and marriage. In 2000, she was invited to speak to an assembly of chief justices from all fifty states. The only other speaker was Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.